Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Documents Required :
A letter signed by the owner of the goods certifying that the following taxable high value goods have not been included in the shipment:
Shipment must arrive in Germany within 12 months after registration in Germany.
Botschaftsbescheinigung from the German Embassy or Consulate at origin.
This document serves to confirm the period of time abroad (returning citizens).
All goods for duty-free importation, such as household goods and personal effects must have been in the owner of the goods’ possession for at least 6 months in the origin country.
Duty-free entry for foreign diplomats is permitted if a bilateral agreement exists with the origin country.
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You don’t have to carry your passport with you while in Germany, but if you’re asked to show your passport and you don’t have it with you, the police may escort you to wherever your passport is being kept so that you can show it to them.
It is illegal to cross German pedestrian crossings when the red pedestrian light is on. Offenders risk a fine and payment of all costs in the event of an accident.
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons.
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The following provides information on major regulatory efforts of the EC Taxation and Customs Union Directorate:
The Union Customs Code (UCC) was adopted in 2013 and its substantive provisions apply from May 1, 2016. It replaced the Community Customs Code (CCC). In addition to the UCC, the European Commission has published delegated and implementing regulations on the actual procedural changes. These are included in the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446, the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/341 and the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447.
There are a number of changes in the revised customs policy which also require an integrated IT system from the customs authorities. In April 2016, the European Commission published an implementing decision (number: 2016/578) on the work program relating to the development and deployment of the electronic systems of the UCC. In March 2018, the EC published a proposal (EU) No 2018/0040 for a draft regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 to prolong the transitional use of means other than the electronic data-processing techniques provided for in the Union Customs Code. The EC continues to evaluate the timeline by which the EU-wide integration of the customs IT system can be implemented. The current deadline of December 2020 may be extended until 2025 (Proposed Regulation)
Key Link: Homepage of Customs and Taxation Union Directorate (TAXUD) Website
Customs Valuation – Most customs duties and value added tax (VAT) are expressed as a percentage of the value of goods being declared for importation. Thus, it is necessary to dispose of a standard set of rules for establishing the goods’ value, which will then serve for calculating the customs duty.
Given the magnitude of EU imports every year, it is important that the value of such commerce is accurately measured for the purposes of:
These objectives are met using a single instrument – the rules on customs value.
The EU applies an internationally accepted concept of ‘customs value’.
The value of imported goods is one of three ‘elements of taxation’ that provides the basis for assessment of the customs debt, which is the technical term for the amount of duty that has to be paid, the other ones being the origin of the goods and the customs tariff.
The Single Administrative Document
The official model for written declarations to customs is the Single Administrative Document (SAD). The SAD describes goods and their movement around the world and is essential for trade outside the EU, or for non-EU goods. Goods brought into the EU customs territory are, from the time of their entry, subject to customs supervision until customs formalities are completed. Goods are covered by a Summary Declaration, which is filed once the items have been presented to customs officials. The customs authorities may, however, allow a period for filing the Declaration that cannot be extended beyond the first working day following the day on which the goods are presented to customs.
The Summary Declaration is filed by:
The Summary Declaration can be made electronically or on a form provided by the customs authorities. However, customs authorities may also allow the use of any commercial or official document that contains the specific information required to identify the goods. The SAD serves as the EU importer’s declaration. It encompasses both customs duties and VAT and is valid in all EU Member States.
European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein), Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, and Serbia also use the SAD. Information on import/export forms is contained in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No. 2015/2446.
Single Administration Document
EU Customs Code
The Union Customs Code (UCC) was adopted in 2013 and its substantive provisions went into effect on May 1, 2016. It has replaced the Community Customs Code (CCC). In addition to the UCC, the European Commission published delegated and implementing regulations on the actual procedural changes.
Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI)
Since July 1, 2009, all companies established outside of the EU are required to have an EORI number if they wish to lodge a customs declaration or an Entry/Exit Summary declaration. All U.S. companies should use this number for their customs clearances. An EORI number must be formally requested from the customs authorities of the specific member state to which the company first exports. Member state customs authorities may request additional documents to be submitted alongside a formal request for an EORI number. Once a company has received an EORI number, it can use it for exports to any of the 28 EU Member States. There is no single format for the EORI number. Once an operator holds an EORI number s/he can request the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO: see below under “MRA”) status, which can give quicker access to certain simplified customs procedures.
More information about the EORI number can be found at Economic Operator Identification and Registration
Since 1997, the United States and the EU have had a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) on customs cooperation for matters relating to the application of customs laws. For additional information, please see Agreements with the United States.
In 2012 the United States and the EU signed a Decision recognizing the compatibility of AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) and C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism), thereby facilitating faster and more secure trade between U.S. and EU operators. The World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards provides the global standard for AEO. AEO certification is issued by a national customs authority and is recognized by all Member States’ customs agencies. As of April 17, 2017, an AEO can consist of two different types of authorization: “customs simplification” or “security and safety.” The former allows for an AEO to benefit from simplification related to customs legislation, while the latter allows for facilitation through security and safety procedures. Shipping to a trader with AEO status could facilitate an exporter’s trade as its benefits include expedited processing of shipments, reduced theft/losses, reduced data requirements, lower inspection costs, and enhanced loyalty and recognition. Under the revised Union Customs Code, in order for an operator to make use of certain customs simplifications, the authorization of AEO becomes mandatory.
The United States and the EU recognize each other’s security certified operators and will take the respective membership status of certified trusted traders favorably into account to the extent possible. The favorable treatment provided by the Decision will result in lower costs, simplified procedures and greater predictability for transatlantic business activities. It officially recognizes the compatibility of AEO and C-TPAT programs, thereby facilitating faster and more secure trade between U.S. and EU operators. The Decision was originally signed in May 2012 and was implemented in two phases. The first commenced in July 2012 with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) placing shipments coming from EU AEO members into a lower risk category. The second phase took place in early 2013, with the EU re-classifying shipments coming from C-TPAT members into a lower risk category. CBP identification numbers for foreign manufacturers (MID) are therefore recognized by customs authorities in the EU, as per Commission Delegated Regulation 2015/2446 (see above).
Additional Information on the Decision
l documents to be submitted alongside a formal request for an EORI number. Once a company has received an EORI number, it can use it for exports to any of the 28 EU Member States. There is no single format for the EORI number. Once an operator holds an EORI number s/he can request the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO: see below under “MRA”) status, which can give quicker access to certain simplified customs procedures.
More information about the EORI number can be found at Economic Operator Identification and Registration
Free import to passengers arriving with goods purchased within the EU which are for personal use only:
Free import to passengers arriving from non-EU Member States (incl. Canary Islands, Channel Islands and other similar territories):
Products of animal origin, not originating from an EU Member State, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino or Switzerland, are not permitted to be imported into an EU Member State, with the exception of limited amounts from Andorra, Faroe Isl., Greenland, Iceland and small amounts of specific products from other countries.
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When products enter the EU, they need to be declared to customs according to their classification in the Combined Nomenclature (CN). The CN document is updated and published every year, and the latest version can be found on the European Commission’s website.
U.S. exporters should consult “The Integrated Tariff of the Community”, referred to as TARIC (Tarif Intégré de la Communauté), to identify the various rules that apply to specific products being imported into the customs territory of the EU. To determine if a license is required for a particular product, check the TARIC.
The TARIC can be searched by country of origin, Harmonized System (HS) Code, and product description on the interactive website of the Directorate-General for Taxation and the Customs Union. The online TARIC is updated daily.
Visitors transiting Germany without clearing the immigration and not leaving the airport transit area, do not need to hold a permit.
Visitors entering Germany need a permit issued by the competent weapons authority. For more information see www.zoll.de
For active military:
Prohibited: It is not allowed to import arms and ammunition from Russian Fed. and Syria. For more information see https://sanctionsmap.eu/#/main/
The import of certain plants is prohibited into Germany (i.e. potatoes, vines, wineleaves etc.).
Additional Information on regulations:
Prohibited: import of fresh meat and meat products from: CIS countries , Portugal, Sardinia, Spain, Turkey and all countries of Africa and Asia. From other countries: allowed up to 1 kg; game and poultry up to 30 kg.
Crew members customs regulations:
Free import, once a day, of:
There is no duty-free allowance for alcohol and alcoholic beverages.
Cats and dogs are subject to Regulation (EC) No. 998/2003 and Regulation (EU) 576/2013 . For more information contact the nearest embassy of Germany. A maximum number of 5 animals may be imported without prior authorization (exception: artists needing dogs/cats for the purpose of their profession may import more than 5 dogs/cats without prior authorization). Pets may enter as passenger’s checked baggage, in the cabin or as cargo.
Pets can be imported only through airports with veterinary border inspection points: Berlin (BER), Cologne (CGN), Frankfurt (FRA), Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN), Hamburg (HAM), Hanover (HAJ), Leipzig Halle (LEJ) and Munich (MUC).
Although the airport of Dusseldorf (DUS) has no veterinary border inspection point, pets can enter via DUS for private entries only.
Pets can not be transported in hold with Lufthansa via Munich (MUC).
Prohibited: the import of American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Terrier breeds and cross breeds into Germany is prohibited. Other breeds may be prohibited at a Federal State level or may need authorization before travel.
For further details please refer to German Customs Administration: www.zoll.de/EN/Private-individuals/Travel/travel_node.html
Birds are subject to Decision (EC) No. 25/2007. The health certificate should have a German translation.
Prohibited: the import of pet birds & poultry and derived products from Cambodia, China (People’s Rep.), Hong Kong (SAR China), Indonesia, Japan, Korea (Rep.), Lao People’s Dem. Rep., Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam.
Baggage is cleared at the airport of final destination in Germany.
Exempt: baggage of transit passengers with destination outside Germany.
Currency Import regulations:
Same regulations as per Export apply.
Currency Export regulations:
Local currency (Euro-EUR) and foreign currencies: no restrictions if arriving from or traveling to another EU Member State .
If arriving directly from or traveling to a country outside the EU: amounts exceeding EUR 10,000.- or more or the equivalent in another currency (incl. banker’s draft and cheques of any kind) must be declared.
The registration must show a minimum use of the last 6 months prior to shipping / prior to the first registration of the client in Germany
Owner of the goods’ town hall registration in Germany (Anmeldebestatigung).
Cars and motorcycles must be in the owner of the goods’ possession and must have been used for at least 6 months (as evidenced by a proper registration) at origin prior to shipment; adequate confirmation will be given by simple declaration as part of the Customs declaration.
Approval for possession and use requires title and registration documents showing customers name and identified vehicle for import.
Cars must be inspected before licensing, and must comply with German technical and environmental regulations and may require modifications.
Customs clearance requires knowledge of all technical details of the car.
Tax and duties must be paid in advance to the Customs office.
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
The German government has restricted entry from designated virus variant areas and risk areas, including all non-Schengen countries not on the country’s travel corridor list. The UK is currently designated a virus variant area, so travellers from the UK are only permitted to enter Germany if they are returning to their place of residence or if they can demonstrate an urgent humanitarian need such as an immediate family bereavement. More information about possible exceptions non-residents may seek to invoke is on the Federal Interior Ministry website. In addition, the German government has imposed a general ban on commercial travel from the UK or other designated virus variant areas for all non-residents until at least 17 March 2021.
UK nationals resident in Germany must demonstrate proof of residence. If you are not yet in possession of a residence card, you will be required to provide credible evidence that you are resident in Germany.
This could include an address registration certificate (Meldebescheinigung), a tenancy agreement, a utility bill in your name, or a certificate of application (Fiktionsbescheinigung).
The German authorities have confirmed that individuals who are registered at a German address in the population register (Melderegister), who can present identification (including residence documents) displaying a German address, or documents (paper or electronic) issued in their name by third parties stating an address in Germany, may be presumed to be resident in Germany. A document which has been left in Germany but which can be accessed by someone else may be photographed or scanned and sent to the traveller abroad by email or via cloud for presentation at checks. See the guidance from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community.
If you’re travelling to Germany from an EU/EEA country not designated as a virus variant area, you are not subject to COVID-19 entry restrictions but may be required to quarantine (see below).
Non-resident UK travellers coming from non-Schengen countries not on Germany’s travel corridor list but not designated as virus variant areas will still need to prove an urgent need for their travel. This exemption includes healthcare workers, some skilled workers, and travel for urgent medical reasons. See the detailed guidance on acceptable urgent needs from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community. The decision on whether to allow entry in such circumstances is at the discretion of border guards.
The German government has published guidance on circumstances in which individuals may enter Germany for urgent medical reasons and the process to be followed. This includes obtaining a certificate completed by the treating physician.
All travellers from the UK must comply with the pre-departure digital registration requirement.
For further details about German travel restrictions and border controls see the Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community website
Hauliers from the UK are generally exempt from the requirement to quarantine when entering the German federal states, subject to specific conditions laid down in the states’ regulations. These conditions typically include a requirement that the hauliers do not stay in the state’s territory for more than 72 hours and that they comply with appropriate health protection and hygiene plans.
For specific rules please consult the relevant federal states for the applicable rules ( in German). There are separate standard pre-arrival registration and testing requirements for entry from virus variant areas for which no exemption applies.
Travellers arriving in Germany who have been in the UK in the preceding 10 days must present a negative COVID-19 test to border officials whilst entering Germany. Airline passengers will have to present their negative test at the start of their journey. In both cases the result can either be in paper or electronic form. The test must have been taken less than 48 hours before entry to Germany. Children aged five or under are exempt from the test requirement. Even with a negative test, travellers will still be required to self-isolate for 10-14 days following arrival in Germany, with the possibility of test and release after 5 days in some parts of Germany. Contact your local public health authority for further details on test and release.
Molecular based tests (PCR tests) from the UK are accepted in Germany. Antigen tests are accepted as well, provided they meet the minimum criteria recommended by the WHO. This includes tests that meet ≥80% sensitivity and ≥97% specificity, compared to a PCR test. Most lateral flow tests work on the same basis as antigen tests and must meet the same criteria to be accepted. Details on the antigen or lateral flow test manufacturer must be given on the test certificate. ‘LAMP’ (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) tests are also now accepted. Border officials and local public health authorities will not accept a negative test result if there is justified doubt about whether the test meets the minimum performance requirements.
You can find more information about acceptable tests from Germany’s public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute’s, website (in German). Further information on testing requirements can be obtained from your local public health authority.
You can find further details about the current restrictions, including quarantining after a negative test on the German Health Ministry website (in German).
If, in the 10 days before you travel to Germany, you have been in an area designated as presenting an increased risk of infection, you must register online in advance of travelling to Germany.
On arrival you must travel to your accommodation and quarantine there for ten days. After five days it is possible to secure release from quarantine with a negative test in some parts of Germany. Some states are requiring up to 14 days of quarantine for travellers from virus variant areas such as the UK. Contact your local public health authority for further details on test and release.
There are some exemptions from the quarantine requirement, including for frontier workers and individuals deemed to be providing essential activities. Precise rules are set by the federal states, so please consult the provisions applicable in the place where you are staying.
Germany is currently only allowing travellers from designated virus variant areas such as the UK to transit Germany by air, without passing national border control. Transit is not possible by land for travellers coming from virus variant areas, such as the Czech Republic or Tyrol (Austria). Otherwise, in general British citizens (and all EU/EEA citizens) may transit via Germany as part of a longer journey, provided they do so directly, their stay in Germany is limited to the minimum period necessary, and their admission to their country of destination is demonstrably secured. Travellers in transit should therefore have onward travel booked and check with their airline in advance of travel. Travellers who have been in the UK at any point in the previous 10 days, even as part of a longer journey, will still need to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival at their transit airport in Germany.
Further information about the transit requirements is on the Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community website. You should also check the travel advice for any country that you are transiting on the way back to the UK.
The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:
you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
if you are travelling to Germany and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days
to stay longer, to work or study, for business or for other reasons, you will need to meet the German government’s entry requirements. Check with the German Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit, if any, you will need
if you stay in Germany with a visa or permit, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit
Any time you spent in Germany or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
At German border control, you may need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You may also need to:
UK nationals resident in Germany should not have their passports stamped on entry and exit, though they are required to demonstrate credible evidence of residence during checks to avoid receiving a stamp (see above). If a resident’s passport is stamped, this has no bearing on their legal status or rights, for instance as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement. You should consult the Federal Police (Bundespolizei) if you wish, as a resident, to have any stamp annulled. You should bear in mind that if your passport is stamped and you subsequently exit the Schengen area after more than 90 days, you must carry credible evidence of residence status with you.
If you are resident in Germany, please carry proof of your residence when travelling.
If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021, you should carry your residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB), as well as your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied but not yet received your document, carry your certificate of application (Fiktionsbescheinigung).
If you have not yet applied for a residence document GB, you should carry credible evidence that you are resident in Germany. This could include an address registration certificate (Meldebestätigung), tenancy agreement, or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020.
If you cannot show that you are resident in Germany, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area, and your passport may be stamped. This will not affect your rights in Germany.
Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.
You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).
If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Germany.
If you intend to work in Germany, you should get detailed information on employment regulations from the German Embassy.
Crime levels are broadly similar to the UK. Take sensible precautions to avoid mugging, bag snatching and pick pocketing. Be particularly vigilant at airports, railway stations and crowded public gatherings. Do not leave valuables unattended. If your passport has been stolen, you must go to the nearest police station and get a police report.
In 2019 there were 3,046 road deaths in the Germany (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 3.7 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.
If you wish to drive in Germany you must carry a valid driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents with you in the vehicle at all times. If the vehicle does not belong to the driver, written permission from the registered owner may also be requested. The minimum age for driving a car in Germany is 18.
You may need extra documents from 1 January 2021.
If you’re taking your own vehicle, you will need a green card and a GB sticker. You might also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have:
The German Federal Transport Ministry has more information on the validity of non-German driving licences
If you’re living in Germany, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.
There is an environmental zone (Umweltzone) in some inner city centres. Only vehicles meeting specific exhaust emission standards are allowed to enter the zone. See the websites of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Federal Environmental Agency for further information.
It is illegal to take part in motor vehicle races or rallies on German roads.
See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Germany.
You should follow all safety instructions given by the local authorities due to the danger of avalanches in some areas. Always check with the local tourist offices on current snow and weather conditions on arrival. Avalanche beepers (receivers) are the most common rescue devices and when properly used provide the fastest way of locating an avalanche victim.